Effective health IT execs must communicate, motivate colleagues

Between Meaningful Use, HIPAA updates and ICD-10, hospital technology executives are hardly at a loss to fill time these days. Still, both chief information officers and chief medical informatics officers are always striving to become more agile and efficient.

Dirk Stanley, CMIO for Northampton, Mass.-based Cooley Dickinson Hospital, has been on the job for five years, but still feels as if his role is evolving--particularly with regard to leadership--he told Healthcare Informatics in a recent interview.

"My role has increasingly become helping leadership to understand what kinds of operational [adaptations] need to be made to support our [electronic medical record]," Stanley said. "I coach a lot of people in our organization on technology--from the president of our medical staff to the chairs of our committees to our [chief medical officer]."

According to Stanley, there's more to the job than meets the eye and its important to keep an open mind with regard to roles and information flow on both the clinical and administrative sides. "The two sides are tied together at different points," he told Healthcare Informatics, "so you can't understand one without understanding the other."

Similar qualities are found in effective CIOs, according to a new whitepaper authored by Pamela Dixon, a managing partner with health IT recruiting company SSi-Search. For example, collaboration and communication are vital traits for the role, as is an ability to "build consensus across" an organization.

"Viewing collaboration as both a skill and a mindset, we like to see evidence of a history of creating or working well with a structured process that has ensured effective collaboration, not just 'strong communication skills,'" Dixon wrote. "True collaboration will ensure CIOs get a seat at the table in setting strategy."

Additionally, the ability to mentor is important, according to Dixon. "When mistakes occur, [effective CIOs] help understand the lesson behind it. When their insights are sought, they are happy to share knowledge. ... This quality makes those around them feel important to the overall mission," Dixon wrote.

To learn more:
- check out the full Healthcare Informatics interview
- here's the SSi-Search whitepaper (.pdf)

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